Nice Words for "Twice As Nice"!
FULL TEXT REVIEWS:
“Guitarist emeritus that we heard alongside of Pinetop Perkins, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, or Hubert Sumlin, Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans just released a good album mixing traditional blues, jump blues and rock’n’roll. It's pretty laid-back overall, with beautiful compositions where the slide is distilled sparingly and with good taste; the horns are superbly applied, and you can feel the craft of the protagonists. It is devilishly well-played and deserves to be heard.”
—Marc Loison, BLUES ALIVE 76, France
BADASS LINEUP, LUSTY SOUL, RIVETING GUITAR!
Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans are Twice As Nice on their sixth CD (Man Hat Tone Records). Native New Yorker Vickers has augmented his usual bad-ass bass/drums/sax lineup for the first time with fiddle, harmonica, keyboards and banjolele (half ukulele/half banjo). Vickers sings with lusty soul and plays a riveting guitar, including bottleneck, switching to bass when composer/bassist Margey Peters steps out front on her closing—and poignant—“Brooklyn Evenings.” With 11 slices of jump-blues, shuffles, updated folk and roots-rock that include band originals and covers of Gus Cannon’s 1921 “Stealin’,” Big Maceo’s 1941 “Worried Life Blues,” Tampa Red’s 1952 “Looka There Looka There” and Jimmy Reed’s 1961 “Close Together,” a portrait emerges of a band in perfect sync. Humor is part of their presentation too, like in Brad’s “Mississippi Swamp,” about the time he encountered a talking bullfrog.
—Mike Goldblatt, GOLDMINE
AN ABSOLUTE MUST!
Brad Vickers has been in the blues circuit for many years. Brad, who lives in New York, has played with Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Odetta and many others. And the influences of these greats can be clearly heard in his music. With his band The Vestapolitans, he offers a cheerful mix of blues, ragtime and rock and roll.
His sixth CD "Twice As Nice" contains eleven songs, seven of which were written by himself or Margey Peters. Margey plays bass in the band and can also be heard as a singer. The other four songs are covers from Maceo Merriweather, Jimmy Reed, Will Shade and Tampa Red. The CD starts nicely with a slow version of Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", followed by the up-tempo "Mississippi Swamp". That immediately gives an impression of the variation that we encounter on the CD. Smooth songs, interspersed with calm ballads, ragtime with jazz, down-home blues with soul. Songs that deserve special mention are the "Twice Is Nice" sung by Margey Peters with a nice bottleck guitar by Vickers and the clarinet played by Jim Davis, the blues shuffle "Everything I Need" and the modest "Red Dust", an ode to the Native Americans.
In short, "Twice As Nice" has become a very beautiful album with authentic blues. An absolute must.
—Eric Campfens, BARN OWL BLUES, Netherlands
LET THE PARTY BEGIN!
"Singer and guitarist, Brad Vickers earned his bluesman stripes by playing and recording with such acclaimed artists as Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, and was credited on such major albums as "Born In The Delta” and “Pinetop Perkins & Jimmy Rogers, Genuine Blues Legends", which earned him Grammy and Blues Music Awards nominations. Today as the head of his own group, the Vestapolitans, he is joined here by Charlie Burnham on violin, Jim Davis on clarinet and saxophone, Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Mikey Junior on vocals, Dave Keyes on keyboards, Margey Peters on bass, Bill Rankin on drums and finally VD King on various instruments, Brad Vickers returns with a new album in which he gives free rein to his passion for blues, rag, rock; more broadly roots'n'roll. The space of three quarters of an hour is filled with good vibrations. "Twice As Nice" reminds us how much Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are artists who love American music in all its forms, and who never miss the slightest opportunity to showcase it with strength and respect. Through [their own] lesser-known compositions as "Mississippi Swamp", "Coast To Coast", "Red Dust" and "Brooklyn Evenings," but also on a few borrowed from Big Maceo Merriweather ("Worried Life Blues "), Jimmy Reed ("Close Together "), Tampa Red ("Look A There Look A There") and Will Shade ("Stealin 'Stealin' "). Refreshing on the most energetic titles, arresting on the slowest blues, the album turns out to be a veritable whirlpool in which one will much appreciate the slide [guitar] parts, which are always very well-dosed by the flights of horns, which never miss an opportunity to fly. Let the party begin!"
—Fred Delforge ZICAZINE, France
CONFIRMED AS LEADING ARTISTS!
American Brad Vickers has had an enviable career in the world of blues. To give you an idea, he recorded or collaborated live with artists such as Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon and Floyd Lee, and was a member, in the role of bass player, of Little Mike & The Tornadoes. Guitarist, bassist, singer, and author, for several years he has also played the role of bandleader with Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans.
It is with this line-up that “Twice As Nice” has recently been published. The band is characterized by the use of the double solo voice. Female, in three songs, borne by bassist Margey Peters, and male, that task falling to Vickers, who also plays the role of guitarist. Jim Davis on tenor sax and clarinet, and Bill Rankin on drums, complete the ensemble. Seven of the eleven tracks presented are original, five penned by Peters, and two by Vickers.
From the very first listening, we are catapulted into a sort of “musical time machine” that allows us to land in the ’fifties of the last century and to be with the masters of blues, ragtime, jazz, rockabilly, folk, and rock & roll—all played and interpreted with skill and credibility. To further enrich the sound, some special guests contributed: Dave Keyes (Popa Chubby, Bo Diddley) on keyboards, Charlie Burnham (Living Color, Cassandra Wilson, Martha Redbone) on violin, Mikey Junior on vocals and harmonica, V.D. King on baritone sax, double bass, guitar, banjoele, percussion, keyboards and vocals, Dean Shot (Hubert Sumlin, Kim Wilson, Ronnie Earl, Lurrie Bell) and Dave Gross on guitars. A very enjoyable album, recommended for all fans of the genre, with “Twice As Nice” Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are confirmed as leading artists.
—Stefano Tognoni, IL POPOLO DEL BLUES
NOTHING BUT WONDERFUL LISTENING BLUES
"My first introduction to "Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans" must have been with the album "Le Blues Hot", about 11 years ago. Brad Vickers has been playing for a while now, and once played with Pinetop Perkins. Rarely have I heard anything that is so "laidback", and so natural sounding that it makes Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans a pleasure to listen to. Brad was inspired by almost all the blues greats, although Jimmy Reed is one of is major examples. What is the best way to listen to Brad Vickers? Just come together with some friends and do nothing on the Sunny Side of the Street, and listen. You don't even have to talk to each other, just enjoy yourself. On "Twice As Nice" we find 11 track, and they open with the Chicago shuffle "Worried Like Blues", a blues standard that was recorded in 1941 by Big Maceo Merriweather. Ragtime and country lbues sometime go hand-in-hand with Brad, and you find this with the original "Mississippi Swamp". Bass player and vocalist Margey Peters wrote the next song, "Love Can Win". Margey is an important source of songs on this album. "Coast To Coast", The title track, a jazzy blues called "Twice As Nice", "Everything I Need", and the concluding number, "Brooklyn Evenings" are also from her hand. With Jimmy Reed as an example, a song of his cannot be missed, so Brad & His Vestapoitans bring "Close Together" in true Reed style. Blues, nothing but wonderful listening blues, and so is the closing NOLA blues, "Brooklyn Evenings".
—Freddy Celis, ROOTSVILLE, Belgium
GREAT SONGWRITING...FULL OF DEEP CUTS
Brad Vickers' new record, with Margey Peters and lots of wonderful guests is called "Twice as Nice" but honestly... it's like "11 times as nice" because all 11 tracks are fantastic, soooo tasteful in everyway. Beautifully produced with the perfect mix of instrumentation. I just LOVE this record and it's been a constant to listen to since I received it. Vickers and his Vestapolitans have a really cool sound and vibe and great song writing - alongside standards like "Stealin' Stealin'" ... My favorite of the originals is "Love can Win"... it's really a record full of deep cuts.
—Ilana Katz Katz, WOMEN IN BLUES
IN SHORT, A GREAT ALBUM!
Brad Vickers’ roots are in the Pine Barrens, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. As a descendant of a musical family, he grew up in a rural environment. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. As bass player for Little Mike and the Tornadoes, he had the opportunity to work with a number of highly renowned blues artists, to learn firsthand. Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Rosco Gordon. These, Odetta, and Sleepy LaBeef are just a small selection of the artists he has been able to provide with bass. Brad Vickers has even made studio recordings with a number of them, such as Pinetop Perkins, who asked him to play on "Born In The Delta" (Telarc) and "Ladies Man" (MC Records), both albums earning grammy nominations. Since 2008 he has been playing with his own band, The Vestapolitans, with which he had released five previous albums, "Le Blues Hot" (2008), "Stuck With The Blues" (2010), "Traveling Fool" (2011), "Great Day In The Morning” 2013) and "That's What They Say" (2015) all on the Man Hat Tone Music label.
The name Vestapolitans comes from vestapol, which means open guitar tuning and fit exactly when he was trying to think of a good catchy band name that starts with the letter V. Brad Vickers, who has been inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as a Master Bluesman, has been strongly influenced by blues, folk, rags and American roots ‘n’ roll. This is reflected in his most recent album 'Twice As Nice', which again has been released on the Man Hat Tone label. On the recording he is supported by bass player Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis, along with violinist Charlie Burnham, guitarists Dave Gross and Dean Shot, singer and harmonica player Mikey Junior, keyboard player Dave Keyes and the multi-instrumentalist VD King, also co-producer of the project.
Brad Vickers kicks the album off with the lazy, authentic double shuffle “Worried Life Blues” by Big Maceo Merriweather, and then boosts the pace considerably in his own “Mississippi Swamp” with drumming, drumming, pulsating harp playing by Mikey Junior, and his own atmospheric slide playing. Funky tones are reflected in “Love Can Win,” written by Margey Peters, on which VD King and Jim Davis provide an extra funky atmosphere with their saxophone riffs.. With only brief reference, Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” is completely a customized arrangement. Jim Davis provides the necessary blue note with his atmospheric saxophone playing. The rocking shuffle “Coast To Coast” has strong similarities to “Route 66,” and makes for a more uptempo piece on the album. In addition to the bass parts, Margey Peters can be found on vocals on the title track, “Twice As Nice,” which she wrote. The band manages to create a beautiful 1920s/1930s atmosphere here with acoustic instruments, and of Jim Davis’ clarinet work plays a very decisive role. Margey's fragile voice fits perfectly with this style of playing, something she repeats on the “Stealin "Stealin" rag, and the concluding “Brooklyn Evenings”—which sounds almost jazzy. In between, the band gives us two more shuffles, “Eveything I Need,” and “Look A There, Look A There,” each with its own tempo; and the spare, acoustically played “Red Dust,” which features a threatening undertone of bass and drums, around which Brad Vickers rolls out his slide parts.
"Twice As Nice" is a fully relaxed and authentic blues album with small side trips into rag and jazz. No guitar shredding here, just musicians who play the at the service of the songs and perform them in a very tasteful way. In short a great album!
—Martin Van de Velde, BLUES MAGAZINE, Netherlands
A GOOD NIGHT DOWN AT THE JUKE JOINT!
I've always enjoyed the music of Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans, and this sixth album is no exception.
Is he rewriting the rule book of the blues and demolishing boundaries? Thankfully, no. What he does is stick to the roots of the blues across a set of originals and covers which could have sat happily anytime between the 1940s and the present day.
It's mainly originals, although he dips into the Big Maceo and Jimmy Reed songbooks, amongst others, and it all sits together in the manner of a good night down at the juke joint.
I'm particularly fond of the songs where the unfortunately named V D King whips out his baritone sax, do "Love Can Win", "Close Together", and "Everything I Need" score highly. Best of all is their take on the Tampa Red tune, "Look A There, Look A There", which is just a joy!
ALWAYS TASTY AND TO THE POINT!
"Guitarist/singer Brad Vickers cut his teeth playing bass behind some of the pioneers of blues and early rock like Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry. He notably played on the legendary pianist Perkins’ Grammy-nominated albums, “Born in the Delta” and “Ladies’ Man”. “Twice As Nice” is the group’s sixth release, and is so titled because of the pleasure of bringing in a cast of close friends to collaborate with the core group of Vickers (guitar/vocals), Margey Peters (bass/vocals), Bill Rankin (drums), and Jim Davis (Tenor Sax).
The Big Maceo number, “Worried Life Blues” starts things off and sets the tone of the record with a laid back groove and solos by Vickers, Davis, and guest pianist Dave Keyes. The Vickers-penned “Mississippi Swamp” is next, following the form of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”. The track is driven by Vickers’ open-tuned slide guitar, and features harmonica played by guest Mikey Junior, who also appears on four other tracks, on vocals, as well as harp. The optimistic “Love Can Win” is sung, and was written, by Margey Peters, who contributed five of the eleven tracks on the recording. On the extremely laid back cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” Vickers’ vocal delivery is reminiscent of J.J. Cale. The MVP of the session has to be V.D. King, who plays nine (!) different instruments, mainly baritone sax, but also organ, guitar, banjolele, piano, upright bass, as well as vocals. On the title track, Peters invokes the riqué style of the early female blues singers. Vickers’ original, “Red Dust” is a spooky lament for the American Indian, featuring a tribal drumbeat and bottleneck guitar.
Brad Vickers’ clean guitar tone contains no frills, and his playing is never flashy, but always tasty and to the point. There’s a down-home charm to the album as a whole. It feels like a gathering of friends in a comfy living room, playing songs with each other, no stress. “Twice As Nice” is unpretentious and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen."
—Bob Monteleone, BIG CITY BLUES Magazine
THIS ALBUM SHOULD RAISE THEIR PROFILE—IT'S THAT GOOD!
“Bassist Brad Vickers apprenticed with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. As the bass player in Little Mike & The Tornadoes he appears on 1988’s “Pinetop Perkins with Little Mike and The Tornadoes After Hours” and also on 1990’s “Heart Attack”. Sometime thereafter he left that band. In 2008 Vickers switched to guitar and partnered with bassist Margery Peters to form Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans and released their debut album “Le Blues Hot”. Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans released four more albums the last being 2015’s “That’s What They Say”. This is their sixth recording.
The current band lineup includes Vickers, guitar and vocals; Peters, bass and vocals; drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis. Special guests include Charlie Burnham, violin; Dave Gross, guitar; Mikey Junior, harp and vocal; Dave Keyes, piano and organ; Dean Shot, guitar; and co-producer V.D. King, on an assortment of instruments.
The word “Vestapolitans” is defined to mean “household gods” and the band preserves the blues, folk and roots music that we grew up listening to. The band mixes their own originals with selected covers. The opening track “Worried Life Blues”, credited to Big Maceo Merriweather, was recorded by him in 1941. The song was based on an earlier one by Sleepy John Estes. Included is the lyric “…someday baby, I ain’t gonna worry my life anymore”. Guesting are guitarist Shot, pianist Keyes, and King on baritone sax. “Close Together” was written and recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960; on the new version Mikey Junior. is added on harp. “Stealin’ Stealin’” is from William Shade, the leader of the Memphis Jug Band, who first recorded the song in 1928 “…pretty mama don’t you tell on me, I’m stealin’ back to my same old used to be”; featured again is Mikey Junior. on harp, as he shares the vocal with Peters; and King on both banjolele and baritone sax. “Look A There, Look A There” written by Hudson Whitaker a.k.a. Tampa Red was first recorded in 1952; the vocal features Mikey Junior., Vickers and Peters. The Vestapolitans revere the originals and reprise these songs.
Vickers and Peters are students of these traditions and create their own originals in the style of the masters. Vickers wrote “Mississippi Swamp” with the lyric “…searchin’ for my baby, don’t know where she’s gone…so I’m down in Mississippi that’s where she comes from”; and “Red Dust” another vocal duet with Peters which he sings while playing bottleneck guitar. Peters contributes “Love Can Win”; the back roads are better in the rockin’ “Coast To Coast” sung by Vickers and performed with twin saxes and Keyes on the ivories; “…I got a sweet little girl, I got “Everything I Need” with some great guitar from Vickers; the sweet “Brooklyn Evenings” in the summer time, with egg creams, and Burnham on violin; and the title track “Twice As Nice” wonderfully sung by her with Davis switching to clarinet “…you can keep your life of virtue I prefer a life of sin…come here daddy let me sit down on your knee, what’s good for you is twice as nice me”.
It’s a fun time catching up with the preservation society known as Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans. This album should raise their profile; it’s that good.”
—Richard Ludmerer, MAKING A SCENE
FANS WILL CLAMOR FOR THIS ONE!
Brad Vickers and the Vestapolitans are champions of an old time music sound. Ragtime, hill country, and all sorts of other roots influences are mixed together with a singing style that matches the music. The Vestapolitans are Brad Vickers on vocals and guitar/bottleneck guitar, Jim Davis on clarinet and tenor sax, Margey Peters on bass and vocals, and Bill Rankin on drums. Special guests abound with Charlie Burnham on violin, Dave Gross on guitar, Mikey Junior on vocals and harp, Dave Keyes on keys, V.D. King on sax, guitar, upright bass, banjoele, percussion, keys, and vox, and Dean Shot on guitar.
Things open with “Worried Life Blues,” the Big Maceo tune that Chuck Berry rocked to. Brad and Company slow things down and give it the down home treatment. Nice guitar by Dean Shot here, sax and piano solos are also featured. “Mississippi Swamp” seems to me to be a remake of “Rolling and Tumbling” with Vickers on bottleneck guitar and Mikey Junior blowing some mean harp. “Love Can Win” features bass player Margey Peters on lead vocals, on a slow to mid tempo blues. Brad and Margey share the vocals on a slow and interesting Jimmy Reed cover, “Close Together” which gets turned into a Vestapolitan-styled blues. Things pick up with “Coast To Coast,” a driving tune with Dave Keys leading the assault on piano and V.D. King on baritone sax. Peters wrote the tune and Vickers fronts the band here as he rocks and rolls and swings on guitar. Peters also wrote the title track, which she sings in an old-time style as Jim Davis lays out some slick licorice stick and tenor work and Vickers again excels on the bottleneck guitar.
“Red Dust” features both Brad and Margey on vocals along with Mikey Junior. Vickers slides nicely and King pounds out the percussion in a Native American Indian lament that is both interesting and thoughtful. “Everything I Need” pays tribute to Jimmy Reed again, this time in a great-sounding Chicago shuffle. Will Shades’ jug band song “Stealin’ Stealin’” gets Vestapolitanized with Margey fronting the band and Mikey in support, an old-time sound with a fun pacing. Tampa Red’s “Look A There Look A There” features Shot on guitar again and Mikey laying out some mean harp. Davis on tenor and King on baritone sax blend sweetly, too. Dave Gross joins the fray for the final tune “Brooklyn Evenings.” The guitar is sublime and the song hearkens back to a time before all of us were born.
Vestapolitan fans will clamor for this one. If you are not familiar with Vickers and his band and their style, this will give you a full taste of the sort of things they do. Featuring a great group of regular and visiting musicians, you’ll get a good sampling of their stuff and how they mix music and a little humor to practice their craft. —Steve Jones, BLUES BLAST
TIMELESS GROOVES, A DELICIOUS MIX!
Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans deliver some excellent, timeless grooves designed to get folks moving and smiling. The music – both originals and covers – is a delicious mix of blues, ragtime, jazz, folk and rock and roll, featuring both male and female lead vocals. The core members of this band are Brad Vickers on guitar and vocals, Margey Peters on bass and vocals, Jim Davis on tenor saxophone and clarinet, and Bill Rankin on drums. These guys surround themselves with several other talented musicians, and on the band’s new album, Twice As Nice, these include Dave Keyes on piano and organ; V.D. King on baritone saxophone, guitar, piano, organ, upright bass, banjolele and percussion; Mikey Junior on harmonica and vocals; Dean Shot on guitar; Dave Gross on guitar; and Charlie Burnham on violin.
This album begins in the blues, with a cover of Big Maceo Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues.” Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans pick up the pace a bit to make it more of a tune to dance to. The band jams on this track, treating us to some great stuff on both guitar and saxophone during the first instrumental section. And then the piano rocks and moves so well in that other instrumental section toward the end, followed by some more totally enjoyable work on guitar. This is a sound that always works for me, a sound that seems to say that life is good. That’s followed by “Mississippi Swamp,” an original number, written by Brad Vickers. It is seriously fun, with a rhythm that shakes and moves. As the title promises, there is a good deal of a swamp sound to this one, but it’s swamp with a delightful pace, something you can dance to. This track features some cool stuff by Mikey Junior on harmonica. All of that is great, but it is that steady rhythm that really drives this track and makes me totally dig it.
“Love Can Win” is another original number, this one written by Margey Peters. It’s a song with a positive message, one I need to hear often these days. We all do, right? “I’ve got something important to say/It gets more urgent every day/Love can win.” Indeed, it is getting more urgent every day, as this nation has become so divided that it seems any common ground has been lost. “Patience, understanding, compassion, respect/We’re all in this together, last I checked/Love can win, love can win.” I need to remind myself that, because it is so damn easy to hate those who support Donald Trump, and often it feels that they deserve nothing but our contempt. But that does nothing good for us, and isn’t going to help. Can they still be reached? Of course, a good message is one thing, but the music has to move you too, and it certainly does here. The track has a pleasant, fairly easygoing groove, and there is some enjoyable stuff on organ. At the end, the line is changed to “Love will win.” Well, all right, I appreciate that optimism. We then return to some classic blues, but with lyrics that work well following “Love Can Win.” Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together,” here with a slightly slower pace, features these lines: “You know this old world of toil and sin/One little person just can't win/Take the two of us going side by side/Trying to keep each other from being taken for a ride/We gotta stay close together.” I really love what these guys do with this song. I feel transported to an earlier time. Or have they transported that time to us here? Either way, everything is working so well. Check out that sax at the end.
With “Coast To Coast,” this band delivers a good dose of rock and roll. The song’s first lines are “I’d love to see/The land of the free.” Oh yes, and now is the time, before it’s all gone. This is an original song, written by Margey Peters, and is about hitting the road. It is one I’ll be adding to my road trip play list. “The back roads are better because there’s so much more to see.” And, yes, it names several cities (as many of these driving songs do): “Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, St. Lou/We’ll have so much fun that we won’t know what to do.” Ah yes, all good road trips start in Boston. For me, the guitar is the center of this track. I love that section where it takes a delicious lead, the horns adding these delightful touches. The jam then continues with the keys taking over. That’s followed by another original number by Margey Peters, “Twice As Nice,” the album’s title track. This is one of my favorite tracks. It sounds like a glorious ol’ dirty number, with Margey singing “Well, they say a life of virtue/Is the only way to win/You can keep your life of virtue/I prefer a life of sin.” Well, all right then! It’s a fun number, to be sure, and I particularly love the clarinet. A song about gender equality, in which we all get to have a good time! “What’s good for you is twice as nice for me.”
“Red Dust” is an original song that feels poised to strike from its start. It has a steady rhythm that seems to forebode danger, with some great bluesy touches on guitar over it. “Not being white was the only crime/Hate was never sentenced to do the time/What’re you going to do about it?/Don’t you want to talk about it?” Yeah, this one has something to say, and it gets you in its grasp before saying it. This one was written by Brad Vickers. That’s followed by “Everything I Need,” written by Margey Peters. The line that stood out for me the first time I listened to this track was “It’s hard to believe the condition the world is in.” Indeed. Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans then give us a rendition of “Stealin’ Stealin’” that is a whole lot of fun. This is a song I first heard on an early recording by the Grateful Dead, and is one I’ve always enjoyed. Margey Peters sings lead, and adds some playful touches. For example, listen to the way she delivers the line “He’s a married man, he comes to see me sometimes.” Mikey Junior plays harmonica and provides some backing vocals on this one. That’s followed by another fun number, a cover of “Look A There Look A There,” which features more nice stuff on harmonica by Mikey Junior. The lead on guitar has a great classic and loose vibe. The disc concludes with “Brooklyn Evenings,” a song written by Margey Peters. This track has a relaxed, easygoing vibe, and includes some wonderful work by Charlie Burnham on violin. “I’ve been thinking/Been remembering/Recollecting on the times gone by/Things were different, maybe better.”
– Michael Doherty, MICHAEL’S MUSIC BLOG
THE ROOTS MUSIC THEY LOVE
“Brad Vickers is an American artist who learned everything by doing it. By touring and being in the studio with Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon, and Pinetop Perkins. Brad is from a musical family. His grandfather played lap steel and drums. Vickers is the frontman / leader of The Vestapolitans. Together they were in the studio for the first time in 2008, for the recording of "Le Blues Hot".
What is a "Vestapolitan"? The way a guitar is tuned, a guitar tuning. The most common mood for a six-string guitar is (from low to high) E-A-D-G-B-E. To understand the significance of the Vestapolitan tuning, we must go back to 1800. Then they taught the young people of the better class, "parlor guitar" and often a popular instrumental work, "The Siege of Sebastapol", named for a city from the Crimean War. In this piece sounds and sound effects have to be simulated. Around 1920 this work (it was then called "Sevastopol") was the prime example. The open tuning was hugely popular with musicians of all grades. The name corrupted over the years to Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol, Bestapol and (after a statement by Bo Diddley, who said he learned guitar in) Vastabol tuning.
Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are fans of roots music, blues, folk, rags, and roots ’n’ roll. For his latest (his 6th!) album, "Twice As Nice," (the successor to "That's What They Say" ) Vickers wrote 2 songs, his co-producer Margey Peters 5, and the other 4 songs are covers. In addition to Margey Peters (bass, vocals), the album line-up again features multi-instrumentalist Dave Gross and talented musicians such as violinist Charles Burnham, Jim Davis (sax, clarinet) and Bill Rankin (drums). Guest musicians were Mikey Junior (vocals), Dave Keys (keys), Dean Shot (guitar) and co-producer V.D. King (bass, percussion, sax...).
Vickers opens "Twice as Nice" with one of the covers, a song by pianist and singer Big Maceo Merriweather (1905-1953), his most famous song, "Worried Life Blues". Artists such as Eric Clapton regularly play it during their shows. Mikey Junior can be heard on backing harmonica on “Mississippi Swamp”. Margey's "Love Can Win" is a soulful number, and on Jimmy Reed's "Close Together" you can hear Vickers in the role of a bluesman. On "Coast to Coast" he is a rocker again, and with "Twice as Nice" Margey Peters sings and pays tribute to the first blues divas. "Red Dust" is a lament for the [American] Indian, the Chicago shuffle "Everything I Need" also winks at Jimmy Reed, and "Stealin" Stealin" is Will Shade’s jugband classic with V.D. King on banjolele and baritone sax. A "must" for Vickers is a Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) number. Here we find the rocking classic "Look a There Look a There". Margey's "Brooklyn Evenings" closes the album with an idyll from a bygone urban era. Charlie Burnham on violin creates the atmosphere. As usual, on “Twice as Nice” Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans continue to play themselves, the roots music they love, and the styles that have influenced them.”
—Eric Schuurmans ROOTSTIME, Belgium
“The sixth album form the New York outfit—and guests—fits right in with its predecessors. Like them, this consists of blues all the way, from the vintage, but slightly updated sound of The Memphis Jug Band’s “Stealin’ Stealin’ ”, with baritone sax replacing the jug, and the vaudeville blues of the title track, an original by bassist and singer Margey Peters, though I wouldn’t have guessed, to the Chuck Berry-styled “Coast To Coast”—that’s about as modern as these guys ever get. Tampa Red is another big influence, particularly on leader Brad, as is Jimmy Reed, and both provide one (lesser-known) song each here. “Red Dust” is the experimental number on this release, inspired by Native American music, but with blues instrumentation—it works, too. Another winner from these guys.
—Norman Darwen, BLUES & RHYTHM, UK
IMAGINATIVE AND CREATIVE!
“Brad Vickers continues to add to his legacy as one of the premier blues musicians working today. Twice As Nice is the sixth album with his Vestapolitans and again, he uses a blues foundation to move in a number of stylistic directions. Vickers’ studio music tends to be fuller than his live performances. His basic band of bassist Margey Peters, drummer Bill Rankin, and saxophonist Jim Davis are a very capable backing band for his guitar and vocals, but on many of the songs here, he adds a violin, keyboard, or an extra sax to the sound. The album consists of two originals by Vickers, five by bassist Margey Peters, plus four covers.
The songs of Peters and Vickers compliment each other. Vickers’ “Mississippi Swamp” retains a sense a humor amid Vickers’ bottleneck guitar and guest Mickey Junior’s harmonica. Margey’s “Coast To Coast” is a rollicking tune about traveling down the road. Vickers “Red Dust” has a little bite to it as he explores the plight of Native Americans. Margey Peters “Brooklyn Evenings” is a poignant look into a past that can never be re-created. The best of the cover songs is an exploration of Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” that brings a lot of energy to the original.
Brad Vickers has created an imaginative and creative album of blues related tracks. Twice As Nice is an album of songs by a veteran bluesman doing what he does best. ***1/2” —David Bowling, CASHBOX
START EXPERIENCING THIS WONDERFUL MUSIC
"I’ve enjoyed Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans’ good-natured, good-humored approach to traditional American music—blues, jazz, folk, ragtime, and rock—for a long time. His previous five albums never fail to impress with their musicianship, creativity, and heart, and their latest release, Twice As Nice (Man Hat Tone Records) continues to build and improve on the band’s quality catalog.
As with their previous efforts, this set consists of choice classic blues covers (four) and well-crafted originals (seven) from Vickers (guitars/vocals) and bassist/vocalist Margey Peters. The rest of the Vestapolitans (Jim Davis – tenor sax/clarinet, Bill Rankin – drums) are joined by several guests musicians: Dave Keyes (piano), Charlie Burnham (violin), Mikey Junior (harp and vocals), Dave Gross (guitar), Dean Shot (guitar), and V.D. King (baritone sax, guitar, tambourine, piano, upright bass, banjolele, organ, percussion, and co-producer with Vickers and Peters).
The album kicks off with a languid version of Big Maceo’s “Worried Life Blues” that swings and sways at a relaxed pace, and then picks up significantly with Vickers’ “Mississippi Swamp,” which borrows the “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ driving rhythm and features torrid harmonica from Mikey Junior and Vickers’ bottleneck guitar. Peters wrote and sings the cheerful mid-tempo “Love Can Win,” and backs Vickers on Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together,” which takes its sweet time and is all the better for doing so.
“Coast To Coast” is an old school rock n’ roller in the Chuck Berry tradition, and Peters’ seductively delivers the title track, which has an old timey jazz feel with Vickers’ bottleneck and Davis’ clarinet. Vickers’ “Red Dust” is a somber lament for the plight of the American Indian, with Vickers, Peters, and Mikey Junior vocalizing over sparse musical accompaniment, and the blues shuffle “Everything I Need,” though penned by Peters, would have been a solid fit in Jimmy Reed’s repertoire.
“Stealin’ Stealin’” is from Memphis Jug Band legend Will Shade, and the Vestapolitans have a lot of fun with their rendition with Peters’ vocal delivery being playful and the band followings suit. Next up is a swinging cover of Tampa Red’s “Look A There Look A There,” with Vickers on vocal, that’s just as much fun, and Peters’ reflective “Brooklyn Evenings” deftly mixes vintage blues and jazz.
Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans never disappoint this fan. I always look forward to any new release from them because you know you’ll get a quality set of traditional music that spans blues, jazz, R&B, and classic rock n’ roll like no one else does at this current point in time. Twice As Nice is a great place for the uninitiated to start experiencing this wonderful music, but you will not want to stop once you start."
—Graham Clarke, BLUES BYTES
ONE OF THE STRONGEST FORMATIONS ON THE CURRENT BLUES SCENE
With great and genuine pleasure I have just received Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans’ sixth album with eleven songs that will show you the music that has influenced them and that they love to play, including blues, folk, jump, and American roots ‘n’ roll. The CD combines their own compositions with a few versions like “Worried Life Blues,” coming from Big Maceo Merriweather and "Close Together" by Jimmy Reed, all with very good semi-electric arrangements. During the years of their career the band has established itself as one of the strongest formations on the current blues scene, as always surrounding their leader Brad Vickers, on guitar and vocals, and including Margey Peters on bass, Jim Davis on tenor sax and Bill Rankin on drums. For this recording they have been joined some excellent guests: Charlie Burnham on violin, Dave Gross and Dean Shot on guitars, Mickey Junior on harmonica and vocals and Dave Keyes on piano and organ, along with producer V.D. King, who brings his technical knowledge and adds some additional instruments. The result is a relaxed and very pleasant to hear album that will satisfy the palates of most fans of roots blues, filled with many colors and nuances to discover.
—Vicente Zumel, LA HORA del BLUES, Spain
THEY DELIVER ON ALL THAT THE MONIKER IMPLIES
“Brad Vickers served a fruitful apprenticeship, experiencing on-the-job training as a guitar foil [on bass] for the likes of Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, and Rosco Gordon. Nevertheless, it’s a credit to his own talent and tenacity that he injects his own personality and perspective into his individual efforts, varying the template and adding a distinct dimension that’s more than simply a carbon copy of the tried and true.
Vickers’ latest effort, “Twice As Nice”, is a case in point. Aided and abetted by his band, The Vestapolitans—Vickers (vocals, guitar), Margey Peters (bass, vocals), Bill Rankin (drums), and Jim Davis (sax)—as well as special guests, he offers an even mix of original tunes, written by both him and Peters, along with some selected standards. A familiarity factor is instilled throughout, as is complete consistency from track to track. Even the cover songs nod to Vickers’ tendency to take a light-hearted approach on most of his tunes. “Stealin’ Stealin’” is an ideal example. While earlier versions of the song tend to lean towards more of a swampy and even sinister approach, Vickers turns it into a playful romp. Peters’ “Twice As Nice” and her “Brooklyn Evenings” play like a pair of jazzy vamps, all sinewy and seductive. Of course, there is not shortage of upbeat additives as well. Another Peters offering, “Coast To Coast”, rocks like an essential from Chuck Berry’s catalogue. On the other hand, “Worried Life Blues”, a song written by Maceo Merriweahter and eventually covered by berry, acquires an easy groove, coaxed along through swing and sway. Vickers’ own “Mississippi Swamp” soars on a driving delivery that employs some steady bass and guest Mikey Junior’s riveting harp in tandem with Davis’ tenor sax.
That said, the band is at its best when the group eases the tempo and allows for more of a light-hearted feel. The easy saunter of “Love Can Win”, with its optimistic and insistent refrain, translates as a much-needed mantra for these troubled times, while a slow strutting version of Jimmy Reed’s “Close Together” not only slows the pace, but reflects all the song suggests. It’s one more reason to believe that when it came time to choose the title for the album as a whole, Vickers and his colleagues fully intended to deliver on all the moniker would effectively imply.”
—Lee Zimmerman, LIVING BLUES
COOL AS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW
Guitarist/singer/composer Brad Vickers has played with numerous legends, including Jimmy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Rosco Gordon, and Pinetop (on two of his Grammy-nominated sets), as well as many others. He’s found the time to put together a fantastic backing band, The Vestapolitans, and they have just released their sixth overall album, this one entitled “Twice As Nice,” for Man Hat Tone Music. It is a sweet collection of originals and covers that keeps alive Brad’s musical vision of spreading excellent blues and roots music to the masses.
When we were teenagers, Chuck Berry recorded a version of Big Maceo Merriweather’s iconic “Worried Life Blues,” and Brad leads off the set with a version full of sweet guitar work that captures the spirit of the St. Louis master, with sax from Jim Davis and piano from Dave Keyes. Brad’s original, “Mississippi Swamp,” is a fine country-blues, including a talking bullfrog and Mikey Junior on the harp. The Delta-fied acoustic blues continues with one of our favorites, “Red Dust,” bemoaning the fate of the American Indian. “Coast To Coast” is another stone rocker that takes the listener on the ultimate road trip in my jitney, from sea to sea!”
We had two favorites. Brad and bassist/duet partner Margey Peters lay down a sweet tribute to Jimmy Reed with the gentle lope of “Close Together,” while Margey offers up an original tune that promises hope for a troubled society if we can aim for “patience, understanding, compassion, and respect,” the topical, spot-on, “Love Can Win.”
Brad Vickers And His Vestapolitans continue to mesh vintage blues sounds with rock, jump, and roots music to create their own groove that’s as cool as the other side of the pillow! Dig “Twice As Nice” for some real good-time blues!!! Until next time…
Don and Sheryl Crow, DON & SHERYL's BLUES BLOG
THIS IS OLD-TIME MUSIC AT ITS BEST
"The music of Brad Vickers & His Vestapoitans; whether blues, ragtime, or vintage rock 'n' roll, is steeped in traditions that go back to a time before the history of music being set to paper. It's a style that he refers to as "Roots 'n' Roll." The days when he would emulate the old masters is long past. This is not what he does; it's who and what he is. Over the years he has performed with numerous legendary artists including Chuck Berry, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perhins, Hubert Sumlin, and many others. He was adopted into the family...actually being referred to by Pinetop at his godson. There is no greater recommendation or show of affection. On Twice As Nice Vickers brings his signature sound to tunes that range from blues to rock 'n' roll and beyond. Along with the "usual suspects" (Margey Peters, bass & vocal, Jim Davis: sax & clarinet, and Bill Rankin: drums) he is joined by Mikey Junior on harp & vocal, Dave Keyes on piano, Dave Gross [and Dean Shot] on guitar, and V.D. King on a wide assortment of instruments. Well-crafted original tunes and covers composed by Maceo Merriweather, Jimmy Reed, Will Shade and Tampa Red make for an album that is, at the very least, a lot of fun. Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans are always delightful, and Twice As Nice is no exception. I put this one in a player along with Tampa Red and the Memphis Jug Band. While I preferred the older material, Brad Vickers and his crew did hold up. This is old-time music at its best."
—Bill Wilson, REFLECTIONS IN BLUE
A REAL PLAYER THAT ISN'T PLAYING AROUND
"With a CV as authentic as a Paul Butterfield or a Corky Siegel (and I'm comparing this guitar man to harmonica players because...?) this white boy with the blues wants you to party whether you call it roots 'n' roll, West Side Chicago, or whatever. Since we're so deep in the mash-up era, I don't think anyone knows the difference between Piedmont and Central Avenue anymore, so when cats like this jam them together, all you can do is let the good times roll. A real player that isn't playing around, this is just a solidly right-on set that delivers throughout. Hot stuff."
—Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD ENTERTAINMENT
I CAN'T THINK OF ANYONE...WHO HAS A GROOVE LIKE THESE CATS
"While the album cover won't ever win any awards, it caught my eye on a busy day, and when I slid it in the office CD player [I] crossed my fingers hoping the music would live up to the Hot Rod billing.
Well, if I had a car like either pictured, I'm damn sure I would have this disc welded into the hi-fi!
While obviously tipping his hat in admiration of loads of R&B and Southern Country acts over the years; I can't think of anyone in particular who has a groove like these cats.
The opening track finds Brad slowing down Big Maceo's “Worried Life Blues” to a stumble and a stroll; whereas the version I know by Chuck Berry is more of a strut; but twinkle in the eye is certainly still there.
Things hot up next on Mississippi Swamp, which is a jumpin' and Jivin' Blues that really plays on Vickers' vocal styling and choppy guitar, and you will find your heart racing in time with the bass,On “Coast to Coast” there's another hint of Chuck Berry in the guitar intro, but it’s the horn section, the piano, and Brad's distinctive voice that make it the type of song where you have one arm out the car window, the other on the steering wheel and your 'best gal' is snuggled up for a drive somewhere ..... anywhere.
While Brad Vickers takes top billing, bass player, associate producer, Margey Peters gets her moment in the spotlight too; and when she does, my knees go all wobbly! She goes all risqué on the title track, “Twice as Nice”, but rips your heart out with her smoky voice on “Love Can Win”, and she winds down the Honky Tonk on the slinky album closer “Brooklyn Evenings”. Plus, she wrote another humdinger that Vickers gets to wrap his larynx around; “Everything I Need,” being one of those R&B stompers that features some stiletto style guitar picking in the middle and close.
While I recognise a couple of other songwriter's names; I don't think I've heard Jimmy Reed's “Close Together” before; but if I have, it certainly didn't sound anything like this dark lament.It's a similar feeling with Tampa Red's “Look a There, Look a There”; which gets a hip and shiny Jumpin' Jive makeover here that will make even a man with a wooden leg want to dance.
For a fun and even sassy album, I'm going left of centre for my Favourite Track; as “Red Dust” arrives with no introduction and made me sit and stare at the speakers the first time I heard it. Why? You may ask. Well, this song is beautifully constructed ode to Native Americans that combines a traditional drum beat with some stinging Bottleneck guitar as Brad Vickers wrings the last drop of pathos out of this dark tale, then squeezes again. 10/10.
Perhaps if I have one criticism, this particular song could and should have ended the cycle; but being where it certainly had a profound effect on this chap.
Yet again I've unearthed a big ole unit of a R&B Band that will undoubtedly never visit my part of the Universe; yet they sound like the best night I'll never have!
—Alan Harrison, THE ROCKING MAGPIE
LOOKING GOOD! 4 1/2 STARS!
Brad Vickers is from Pine Barrens, at the East end of Long Island, New York. He learned the craft by making music and touring and had recordings with Jimmy Rodgers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta, Sleepy LaBeef, Rosco Gordon, and Pinetop Perkins, with whom he has two Grammy-nominated albums ('Born In The Delta' and 'Ladies Man'). His previous album, "That's What They Say" dates back to 2015.
When Brad Vickers was looking for a "V" name for his group, he chose The Vestapolitans. And there is good reason for that. Back to the 19th century when young people played a "parlor guitar". There was a song known as “The Battle of Sebastapol”, and example of an instrumental form known as a "character" which had a stage bravado component, with sections meant to emulate sound effects, just like a bugle, or exciting battle sounds. These kinds of pieces were taught to advanced students for recitals. More importantly, they were played in "open" tunings. This enthusiastic mood circulated among artists almost immediately. And although the piece itself did not become a standard, there must have been enough versions to put the name into circulation. By the 1920s, the 'Sevastopol' tuning became very popular with musicians from all walks of life and as the years progressed the name became curved in all sorts of forms: Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol and Bestapol. Bo Diddley even said that he learned to play the guitar for the first time in "Vastabol" tune. (he preferred open E and would use a capo to vary the key). Vestapol therefore refers to the agreement— the relationship between the open strings— not necessarily to the key. The most played Vestapol tunings are D Major (where the tuning is: DADF # -AD) or E Major (where the tuning is EBEG # -BE.) Brad uses both tunings. Hence the reference to His Vestapolitans!
Now Brad Vickers presents his new album "Twice As Nice". Brad opens with Big Maceo Merriweather’s "Worried Life Blues" and the track "Mississippi Swamp" with Mikey Junior on bluesharp. The soulful "Love Can Win" exemplifies the strongly divergent material, including Jimmy Reed's Chicago blues "Close Together", and [their] "Coast To Coast". Guest singer Margey Peters gives "Twice As Nice" a jazzy vocal form. "Red Dust" is perhaps the odd man out. Give us the swinging "Everything I Need", the enthusiastic jugband "Stealin" Stealin," and the rocking classic "Look A There Look A There". Margey Peters is back for the closing number "Brooklyn Evenings". Looking Good! 4 ½ Stars!
—Philip Verhaege, KEYS & CHORDS, Belgium
A HEAPING HELPING OF CHARM!
They say that music is one of the surest ways to time travel, and Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans have it down. On Twice As Nice, their 6th album, they take us back to the sixties for a heaping helping of what they call “blues, folk, jump and great American roots ‘n’ roll”, celebrating the music they love with obvious affection.
Twice As Nice is a collection of lively exchanges by all of the musicians involved, replete with some great sax solos and fine playing by all. Vickers has a lived- in voice that gives these tracks a kind of wobbly charm that’s hard to find in music these days. Brad in particular reminds me of John Mayall- not the strongest singer, but unforgettable and easy to recognize his voice when he steps up. Bassist Margey Peters shares the vocal duties. Vickers learned his craft on the job playing, recording and touring with blues and roots masters Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Odetta and Roscoe Gordon. Knowing that before you put this on gives you an idea of what to expect.
This disc is a mix of originals and blues standards, like Worried Life Blues (taking its cue from Chuck Berry’s version), Tampa Red’s Look A There Look A There and Jimmy Reed’s Close Together. Produced by Vickers, Peters and V.D. King, the sound here is straightforward and uncomplicated, much like it would have been done back in the day when Brad was playing with the people listed in the previous paragraph. As Brad says in the press releases, “I hope you have half as much fun listening, as we had making Twice As Nice!” You know? I kinda did.
—John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor, GONZO MAGAZINE, Canada
THIS GUY CAN HIT THE STRINGS!
Brad Vickers sings with a pop styled voice and plays guitar like a juke joint junkie as he rocks the blues with a team of Bill Rankin/dr, Margey Peters/b, Jim Davis/ts, VD King/bs, Dave Keyes/or and Mickey Junior/harp-voc in a cut and paste fashion of songs. With Junior’s harp, there’s some two stepping on “Stealin’ Stealin’” and shuffling on “Look A There Look A There.” Vickers picks out a winner on the boogie’d “Coast To Coast”, and his take on Jimmy Reed’s classic “Close Together”, and gets some earth shattering tones out of his strings. On bottleneck, Vickers creates a rural mood on “Red Dust”, with his high tone voicings creating a sweet and sour contrast to the foreboding environs, whereas the title track bounces with some exquisite riffs. This guy can hit the strings!
—George W. Harris, JAZZ WEEKLY
THE STORY OF A LIFE THAT IS, ABOVE ALL, BLUES
“We could betray that we had not duly informed ourselves, and, think that the name of Brad Vickers was that of a new guitarist on the scene, if not a debut for the Vestapolitans. Nothing could be more wrong, because this record is actually the continuation of an autonomous work by one of those characters who are too often shadowed by the fame of the fathers with whom they had the honor of treading the stages, born with music, and part of it with all the naturalness of a native tongue. And to that dialogue woven by the instruments even before the words, Brad Vickers participated since he was a boy, asked for a guitar and received a bass for Christmas: not a mistake, though, because his grandfather advised his father that he would have more engagements, since the guitarists were already many. The old man was certainly not mistaken, as soon the young man, apart from disappointments, found himself on the stage of a club to accompany Chuck Berry, on a road that then opened up, leaving space for him to even pick up the guitar, in the pay of many enviable caravans, around names like Pinetop Perkins, or Hubert Sumlin, or Bo Diddley. People that Brad tells of not only having a professional relationship, but who also would teach him some tricks of a life lived, for this job, most of the time, in fact, "on the road".
The Vestapolitans planted the roots of a project of his own, preserving in his music the instrumental narrative of what he learned live, in the story of a life that is, above all, blues. Even "Twice As Nice" does not fail to reiterate the same narrative, made up of an "American roots 'n' roll", as Mr. Vickers likes to define himself, in the company of an ensemble that has now been tried and tested for a long time, and where it almost seems that the translation of the title, "Two is Better", could be nothing less than the other side of the Vestapolitans, the voice (and bass) of Margey Peters. To the vocal alternations, one more "Chicago-style" and the other from the classic blues in the feminine mold, are added the guitars of Dave Gross and Dean Shot, the harmonica of Mikey Junior, piano and organ of Dave Keyes, the violin by Charles Burnham, the drums of Bill Rankin, and the sax of Jim Davis, with the multi-instrumentalism of V.D. King. The result is another appreciable sound, witness to an experience more than that of the present, with a spontaneous blues that one sees in tracks like "Coast To Coast" or "Everything I Need", up to "Look A There": the imprint of an earlier vintage rock 'n' roll; a pre-war classicism in the title-track, and taking stylistic chances for the shadowy "Red Dust"; a choral r & b for "Love Can Win," and what remains on the line is most sincere, and this, the immutable trademark of the sounds of the origins, squarely within the confines of the style.”
—Matteo Fratti, IL BLUES, Italy
BROADMINDED PREWAR BLUES AND JAZZ!
This cohort of New Yorkers continue in the vein established over their first five releases: a full band, playing predominantly acoustically; a broadminded attitude toward styles, with a prewar blues and jazz feel often informing the music due only in part to the presence of staple jug and string infuences.
—Kevin Hardy, MAINSTREET BLUES, KCOR
NEW YORK NATIVE LOVES OLD-TIME BLUES
New York native Brad [Vickers] loves old-time music, as the name of his group—which takes from a guitar tuning popular in the 1920s—implies. And all of the 11 tunes on “Twice As Nice”—four covers and seven originals—feature his seven-piece band and come across with the feel of a bygone era. Vickers knows the music well. Before launching the Vestapolitans in the mid-2000s, he enjoyed a lengthy career as a sideman with several of the biggest names in blues and roots, including Odetta, Chuck Berry, Rosco Gordon, among others. He and bassist Margey Peters share vocals in a set that mixes traditional blues, ragtime and more. Give a good listen to “Worried Life Blues”, the Big Maceo classic that was a regal part of Berry’s set, “Mississippi Swamp”, the driving “Coast to Coast”, the vocal duet “Red Dust”, Memphis Jug Band founder will Shade’s “Look A There Look A There”, and “Brooklyn Evenings.”
–Marty Gunther RED HOT & BLUES
MIXES ALL SORTS OF ROOTS INFLUENCES IN HIS OWN MAGIC CAULDRON
“For those unfamiliar with Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans “Twice As Nice” will provide a solid, true example of the band, as well as a full array of their style and the nuances that they more or less habitually put forth.
A champion of an old, almost ancient sound, Brad Vickers puts all sorts of roots influences in his own magic cauldron, adding a vocal and instrumental style that is fully aligned with the music. Once the ingredients are blended, the rabbit extracted from the hat is of mixed lineage and brings obvious traces, in its genetic make-up, of ragtime, hill country blues, jug band blues, jump, and roots 'n' roll.
The basic line-up, which includes saxophones, clarinet and banjoele, is occasionally supplemented with prestigious names such as Dave Gross, Charlie Burnham, Dave Keyes, and Mickey Junior, on guitar, violin, piano and harmonica, respectively.
And the repertoire, which swings amiably between unreleased songs and remakes, includes, among the highlights, a slowed-down and down home version of Big Maceo's “Worried Life Blues”, two amazing re-releases taken from Jimmy Reed (“Close Together” and “Everything I Need” [This one actually an homage, in Reed’s style written by Margey Peters] the latter disguised as Chicago shuffle), as well as some tributes to a distant past with the re-enactments of a couple of titles by Will Shade and Tampa Red to which the voice—with its viscous and sleepy nasal reflections, of Margey Peters, who shares the vocal tasks with Vickers—gives the typical flavor of a classic blues.
Standing out from the pack a little, the lament for the [American] Indian “Red Dust” arises; while the concluding “Brooklyn Evenings” (....in the summertime...) are brightly lit by Dave Gross's pleasantly stinging guitar. “
—Giovanni Rubino, MACALLE BLUES, Italy
YOU CAN'T HELP BUT JUMP AROUND AND HAVE A GOOD TIME!
On this release Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans celebrate the music they love and the styles that have influenced them - blues, folk, jump and "great American roots 'n' roll". Of the eleven tracks, seven are originals and they cover classics like Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", Will Shade's jug band classic "Stealin' Stealin'" and Tampa Red's "Look A There, Look A There". Their sound harks back to the vintage 50's style of roots music and you can't help but jump around and have a good time with this one.
—Marty, THE BLUES MUSIC BLOG, Australia
“I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, "Twice As Nice", from Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans and it's freewheeling blues. Opening with Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", Vickers on guitar and lead vocal leads the Vestapolitans in a traditional shuffle. With Bill Rankin on drums, Margey Peters on bass, Jim Davis on tenor sax, Dave Keyes on piano, V.D. King on bari sax, and Dean Shot on guitar, a solid opener. On Jimmy Reed's "Close Together", Margey Peters joins on backing vocal and bass. Her touch gives the track an additional dimension. And a raspy sax solo from Davis adds a nice spice. "Coast to Coast" is a cool rocker with hot solos by Vickers, Keyes, and Davis. Very cool. Vickers turns over the mic to Peters for "Twice As Nice", deferring his work to bottleneck guitar and with wailing nice clarinet by Davis. Memphis Jug Band's "Stealin' Stealin'" is my favorite track on the release with Mikey Junior on vocal and harmonica with Peters (who also plays bass) and Vickers on guitar, Rankin on drums, Davis on sax, and King on bari sax. Mikey Junior, Davis and Vickers take real nice solos on "Look A There Look A There", a super swing rocker with great tempo. Very nice. Wrapping the release is another Peters original, "Brooklyn Evenings". With its rimshot timing and featuring Charlie Burnham on violin, it has an old style blues feel and with Vickers shifting over to bass, Dave Gross' guitar work adds a nice sparkle to the closer.”
—BMAN’s BLUES REPORT